This is what #MeToo has wrought.
Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer, last year’s Cy Young winner as the best pitcher in the National League and currently the game’s highest paid player, hasn’t been able to pitch for his team since late June. The reason: he has been accused of domestic abuse. Accused.
Ethics Alarms first reported on his story here, writing,
“A restraining order was taken out against Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer, last year’s National League Cy Young winner. Bauer is a sportswriter favorite for his outspoken social media presence and progressive politics, so this will be a blow to the sportswriting woke. The woman making the allegations had what started as a consensual relationship with the pitcher, but in a 67-page document, alleges that Bauer assaulted her on two different occasions, punching her in the face, vagina, and buttocks, sticking his fingers down her throat, and strangling her to the point where she lost consciousness twice, an experience she said she did not consent to. After the second choking episode, the woman awoke to find Bauer punching her in the head and face, inflicting serious injuries. She contacted police, and there is now an active investigation of Bauer by the Pasadena, California police department. If any of her account is true, Bauer faces serious discipline from baseball, which has been (finally) cracking down on domestic abuse by players in recent years.”
I seriously miswrote, and should have known better. Baseball has a well-established tradition of taking action against players regardless of whether accusations have been proven. Indeed, the eight Chicago Black Sox who were accused of throwing the World Series in 1919 had been acquitted by a jury (They were guilty as sin, but then so was O.J.) were banned from baseball for life anyway. Pete Rose was banned for betting on baseball games before the evidence was definitive (Pete eventually confessed years later).
The next time I wrote about Bauer‘s case was a month later:
“Dodgers pitcher and reigning Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer, remains in limbo and under administrative, paid leave while baseball investigates the horrific allegations of abuse against him. Meanwhile, the Dodgers players have told reporters that they don’t want him back, though whether this is because he is an infamous pain in the neck or because he beats up women is unclear. Since the MLB policy appears to be based on “believe all women” and a “preponderance of the evidence” standard rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” I find it ethically troubling. (It resembles the way the Obama and Biden administrations want campus sexual abuse matters to be handled.) If, and I think this is doubtful, Bauer escapes charges and is still suspended, he is an excellent bet to challenge MLB’s “guilty until proven innocent” approach in the courts. Pains-in-the-necks have their uses.”
Last week, Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association agreed to extend the Bauer’s administrative leave (he’s still being paid) through the end of the World Series, which the Dodgers still have a fighting chance to be part of should they make the play-offs. There has been no new evidence since June; the accusations against Bauer remain just that. He denies them, saying that the rough sex he had with his accuser was entirely consensual, and that he is the victim of a shakedown.
A Los Angeles judge recently denied the woman her request for a permanent restraining order , ruling that Bauer did not pose a future threat to the alleged victim. That ruling was not a determination of criminal guilt, however. No charges have not yet been filed against Bauer; he has not been arrested, prosecuted, or tried. The Pasadena Police recently turned over its findings to the Los Angeles County District Attorney, whose office is still reviewing the evidence. There is no indication whether criminal charges will formally be filed.
Major League Baseball,meanwhile, is doing its own investigation into these allegations as well as into a separate set of accusations from an Ohio woman, who alleges that Bauer sexually abused her last summer. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred can suspend Bauer even if criminal charges never materialize. Baseball has punished other players even after the alleged victims of their sexual assaults recanted or dropped their complaints.
The now extended administrative leave has already cost Bauer half the 2020 season, cast a shadow over his reputation, alienated him from his team, killed any chance he might have for endorsement deals, and, in all likelihood, ended his baseball career. He will earn 40 million in exile this year, and unless the Dodgers can find a way out of their commitment to him, $45 million next year.
So no, though Bauer may end up as a victim of a false accusation, he will be a filthy rich victim, which is better than what most victims face. Nonetheless, the pitcher is being punished before any decisive determination of the truth has been made. I think it is likely that Bauer is guilty, but likelihood is not enough. I see no ethical argument that can justify Trevor Bauer having his career ruined before the evidence is in because Major League Baseball wants to signal that it cares about domestic abuse.